(Meredith) - After spending 17 years underground, millions of cicadas are about to emerge in parts of the country.
As many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre will surface in parts of Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia, according to Virginia Tech University.
"People who live in these regions will experience a unique natural phenomenon that has not occurred in most of the area since 2003-04," the university said in a statement published to its website.
Cicadas occur either annually (every year) or periodically (every 13 or 17 years) depending on the species. Periodical cicadas are sub-grouped in 12 different "broods," which cover a specific geographical region and overlap in some areas.
The cicadas that will surface in Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia within the coming days are from brood IX.
People in these areas can expect to hear the noisy mating call of male cicadas attempting to attract females.
“Communities and farms with large numbers of cicadas emerging at once may have a substantial noise issue,” predicts Eric Day, an entomologist at Virginia Tech. “Hopefully, any annoyance at the disturbance is tempered by just how infrequent — and amazing — this event is.”
While these bug-eyed insects do not pose a threat to people, they could harm orchards, vineyards and ornamental trees.
“This insect is really fascinating, and if you don’t have fruit trees or grapevines to protect, you can enjoy this phenomenon while it lasts,” said Virginia Tech professor Doug Pfeiffer.